Home » Team of Experts Channel » Brooke de Lench » Editorials » Kids Just Wanna Have Fun

From the MomsTeam Archives

Kids Just Wanna Have Fun

The Regular Season: No Joy in Mudville

As the season progressed, it became painfully obvious that my sons and a number of the other boys on the team were not having fun. During each game and practice, they had the same complaint: the coaches weren't letting them play any of the "fun" positions in the infield. Instead, they were consistently relegated to the outfield, where very few balls were ever hit. I noticed a disturbing pattern. The only boys playing the "fun" spots were the sons of the four coaches! Six boys were never given a chance to play in the infield. I can still remember the sad look on one boys face as he asked me why he couldn't play the infield. I put my arms around him and whispered, "When your team comes off the field next inning, go up to the coach and tell him you would like to play an infield position. Better yet, tell him ALL the boys who always stand in the outfield want a turn." With a twinkle in his eye that suggested that our plan just might work, he returned to his position in right field.

When the Red Sox came off the field to bat, I saw one of the players approach the coach. He brought along his two brothers for support. "Coach, can we play the fun spots next inning, please?" he asked. How could anyone resist a five year old with big smile and a twinkle in his eye?

One of the coaches' five-year-old son blurted out, "You stink. That's why you are out there. We are the best."

He began to cry. Between sobs he managed to say, "I don't stink!" No coach came to his defense. His ever-present clipboard in hand, the head coach simply walked away and called off the batting order, leaving it to me to try to console a little boy whose only "crime" was that he wanted to have fun.

Putting the fun back in youth sports

Thirty years ago, before adults took over youth sports and "improved" it, playing sports was all about having fun. Playing the game for the fun of it has lost out to coaches with clipboards and whistles looking to find the next Mark McGwire or Mia Hamm. Fun has lost out to grooming children of coaches to become the next million dollar bonus babies. Youth sports are increasingly about winning, at all costs. Even if it means that five year olds spend the entire season in the outfield. It is our job as parents to do everything in our power to put the fun back in youth sports.